UPDATE 9:30 AM, 5/20: Tropical Storm Alberto is expected to remain mostly offshore, gradually weakening as it possibly brushes eastern North Carolina. A cold front approaching from the west (actually, the same cold front that helped trigger severe storms the Virginia Tech storm chasers caught in Nebraska on Saturday) will begin increasing thunderstorm chances early in the coming week. I will be on the road westward toward home today after a fairly good series of storm intercepts on Saturday, with wall clouds and gustnadoes (larger whirls of ground dust spun by strong outflow winds) being among the highlights. Will have some more details later. END UPDATE
UPDATE 2 AM, 5/20: Tropical Storm Alberto was named earlier this afternoon. For more, visit the National Hurricane Center website linked here. END UPDATE
Keep an eye on this little whirl off the coast of the Carolinas. The National Hurricane Center is. The low pressure system has a chance to take on tropical characteristics — i.e. a warm core arising from evaporation of warm ocean waters — if it hasn’t already. If the National Hurricane Center judges that it has developed sufficient tropical characteristics, it could become the first named storm of the Atlantic season (or pre-season, since the hurricane season technically begins June 1). As a tropical storm or subtropical storm (mixed tropical and non-tropical characteristics) with winds topping 40 mph, it would become Alberto. Keep this in mind if you are traveling toward the coast of the Carolinas. A full-blown hurricane is unlikely, but some windy, rainy weather is possible along the coast. Whether it’s Alberto or not, it may drift inland late in the weekend, and possibly farther west early next week, bringing a chance of showers and storms to Southwest Virginia.
I will be out today on the most active day of the current Virginia Tech storm chase, and a long return trip the next couple of days, so monitor the National Hurricane Center (click on Atlantic) and the National Weather Service-Blacksburg for further updates.